Life before Sky
I grew up in Wells, one of the smallest cities in the UK where there’s not a huge amount going on, so I always planned to move to London after university. I studied a sandwich course at Aston University in Business and Politics and I completed my placement year, working on the Aldi Retail Management scheme. This was fantastic experience and involved huge levels of responsibility but I decided that retail was not for me. I wanted to try something different and started to look for procurement graduate schemes. I was attracted to Sky because I have always been interested in the media and entertainment industry and I was aware about the fast-paced and vibrant environment you become a part of here at Sky, with real responsibility from day one.
Lift at Sky
The procurement graduate scheme allows you the opportunity to rotate throughout the three key procurement areas at Sky; Group, Technology and Ops Enablement. During my life at Sky, I have spent most of my time in Marketing Procurement which is under the Group Procurement team. Marketing Procurement is a really interesting area and different from the other procurement sectors due to the level of stakeholder engagement necessary in all of your projects, building relationships with both internal and external stakeholders becomes the key to success. It also differs because your core objective is to obtain the most return on investment from your suppliers rather than simply focus on cost savings which changes the way you approach a project.
I’ve worked on a wide range of projects mostly within digital marketing and creative categories. Within digital, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about brand new technologies and introduce them to different areas of Sky. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with a large number of stakeholders in different areas of the business such as PR, Now TV and Sky Business. I really enjoy the challenges that come with working with such a wide range of people at different levels within the company and managing each of their interests within a project. Working on creative projects has been great, especially having an input on new brand and advertising campaigns because you can actually see the output of your hard work at home on the TV or across billboards on your commute to work.
On this graduate scheme, you will also have the opportunity to complete the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPs) qualification which compliments the real work experience you achieve throughout the rotations and really supplements your knowledge. I have no legal background and undertaking certain CIPs modules has really helped my learning in these areas. It has given me the confidence to work alongside Sky legal teams when contract negotiations become part of a project.
Sky Retail advisor Mike Sullivan has hang up his ID Badge after showing the best of Sky for 15 years. Mike worked at our Sky Retail store at Royal Victoria Place shopping centre in Tunbridge Wells and retired on Thursday 2 October after 15 years’ service.
Mike works at our Sky Retail store at Royal Victoria Place shopping centre in Tunbridge Wells. Mike retired on Thursday 2 October after 15 years at Sky. He's been directly helping our customers over this time, starting out with us as an Engineer before recently moving into Retail.
We spoke to Mike, pictured right, about his time with Sky and the different situations he has found himself along the way.
"Following my many (many) years as a Sky employee I’m able to look back and smile at the strange situations I found myself in.
“I started with Sky as an Installation Engineer just as Digital Sat started in the UK. It was when we started to install the first smaller satellite dishes and in turn taking down the solid 60+ centimetre dishes which weighed a ton!
“There was one occasion where I had to convince a customer during installation, that the dish would not be able to pick up a signal from inside their loft! I spent time demonstrating this in order to install the system and was on site for almost three hours, but it was worth it to get the job done.
“I transferred to Sky Retail three and a half years ago and have to admit being struck initially by the culture shock of going from Engineering to Retail. But I was working with great people at different stores which helped smooth the transition.
“We've all got great stories of strange or funny things happening workwise but this is a favourite of mine. A while ago an elderly customer came to the store saying that his Sky wasn't working. To cut a long story short I managed to work out that there could be a problem with his remote control. I asked the customer to bring their Sky remote in to me as they didn’t live far from the shopping centre. It turned out that the batteries were in the remote the wrong way round! TA DA! Problem solved and the customer went away happy.
“I would like to say thanks to all of you for your advice, help and friendship. It's been emotional. Good luck and best wishes to everyone at Sky."
Frances wanted to be a vet and studied plenty of science subjects throughout school; but Software Engineering took her eye, especially after chatting to some of the Sky developers at a careers fair.
When I was growing up I actually wanted to be a vet, so I did a lot of science-y subjects at school – I studied Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths at A-Level.
Over the two years I realised that being a vet wasn’t for me. I instead focused on my passion for video games and applied to the Computer Science course at Newcastle University. While at university, I developed more of an interest in Software Engineering rather than gaming.
There was a careers fair at my university and as I was going around all the stands I noticed that the team at Sky seemed genuinely enthusiastic about their roles and working at Sky. I spoke to some developers who had been through the graduate scheme and I was able to ask them further questions on it and it prompted me to apply.
I was successful and am now in my development job on the Software Engineering Academy and I’ve really been enjoying it!
One of the most interesting events that I’ve taken part in involved showing some school students around Sky Studios and developing a phone app with them. It was pretty fun and exciting because you could see they were amazed by some of the things they were doing, like they thought that building something like that would be beyond them. I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but it’s true!
Initially I had visions of being sat in a dark basement all day tapping away at a keyboard, with no one ever seeing you, but that’s not true at all. It’s initially a bit scary here, just because it’s so big! There are so many thousands of people working here. It can be a bit intimidating just wandering in to a brand new building with all these people with all of their computers doing this that and the other, but everyone I’ve spoken to has been really friendly. No one thinks any less of you if you ask a question that seems silly or obvious. I’ve never been made to feel unwelcome. At the moment I’m working on Now TV (Sky’s subscription-based streaming service), which is really exciting and uses lots of innovative bits of technology.
I’ve also gained confidence in my abilities. Work I’m doing is being used by real customers - I know that if what I was developing wasn’t up to scratch, it wouldn’t have made it to that stage. At university I knew I could do what was asked of me, but there was a lot of self-doubt, especially when starting new topics and concepts.
One thing I would say is take every opportunity you can get. You can sit there and do your day job – the bare minimum – but there’s so much else going on here. Events, talks, days out. keep pushing yourself, put yourself out there because no one else will do it for you. We’re all there to help each other out if we need it.
One of my first projects was to create an iPad app to be taken out to the university recruitment days. That was really nice, because I’d been in that position myself so could think back to what students would like and need. The Starting Out team are now using it for a second year, collecting applicant’s details.
There were five of us new graduates working on it and we did all of the developmental testing and analysis so seeing out on-campus and in use was really rewarding.
On a daily basis though, I’ve been involved with several on-going projects and am learning new languages, skills, and techniques every day. I’m keen to try more and more projects and see more of what Sky has to offer, as the work is far more varied than I expected.
My advice to potential candidates is to not wait until summer to start looking for jobs. The sooner you get to know which opportunities are available, the sooner you’ll be able to figure out which ones are best for you, and get applying!
Mark is based in our Livingston office and has just started his 2nd year of the Technology Graduate Programme. Before joining Sky, Mark was studying Electronic Engineering with Music in Glasgow. Read on to find out more.
Applying for the scheme
I wanted to find a graduate scheme for the training opportunities and the flexibility this would bring. I came across the Sky Technology graduate scheme while searching for graduate programs and although it wasn’t one I had previously been aware of, after looking into this more I decided it was definitely worth applying. A few weeks later and I was a new Sky technology graduate!
The idea with the rotations is to get a grounding in everything – Testing, Development, Support and Analysis. So far I’ve done testing, support and more recently I’ve gone in to an environment management role which is totally different from any work I have done previously. While I have enjoyed the more technical side of problem solving and fixing things when broken from support – getting to know a totally different role gives me the opportunity to expand my knowledge base on different subjects.
Some people have this kind of stigma about grad schemes – “oh you’re a graduate, they’ll give you all the boring stuff to do.” however in my experience I’ve always been treated as a real asset and an important team member.
Every day I’ve been learning something new. The time I spent at University was useful but looking back it was more for developing how to learn rather than what you’re actually learning. Whereas when you’re here in Sky, you know it’s all relevant and actually being used. Sometimes I felt at university, “I’ll never use this, I don’t need to bother too much” but still realizing that the method of learning is important.
It is certainly different, being in full time work to education however the previous experience helps in the adjustment. The seven week training was itself like a small university course with a lot of information to get in! We trained down in West London, and worked with the graduates from England. We’ve kept in touch since to find out what we’ve all been up to and this has been a great way to network and get to know about different parts of Sky and how they work.
Highlights and proud moments
The people. It’s quite a social place to work. It’s not like you come in just to go home again. It’s all about meeting new people, and it’s a massive workplace with so many different areas, so it’s a good place to do it. I’ve even organized football games between departments and a table tennis tournament.
There are so many different projects, so many opportunities to learn different things. I chose Sky over other options also because of the size of the company.
It’s a really open place to work. And I remember hearing this myself – and it really rings true now – what you put in, you’ll get back out. So if you put a lot in, you’ll get the rewards. I think it’s easy in a big company to shy away and not get involved but getting stuck in means you really get to have a great experience.
Jess studied Maths at Newcastle Uni and joined us on our Technology programme last year - read her story here.
What were you doing before you worked at Sky?
Studying Maths at Newcastle University
What do you do at Sky?
I’m a Technology graduate so it changes every six months. I’ve helped with the releases of mobile apps, tested the Sky iD pages and now developing the Find and Watch pages.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The chance to meet lots of people and to see a variety of what goes on behind the scenes in the tech world
What has surprised you most about working at Sky?
Just how fast moving everything is as things come in at such last minute!
Find out how Graham went from studying Biology at St Andrews to joining our Technology programme and is now working on real-life Sky projects.
After leaving university my degree meant that there was only one career option open to me, saving the planet one tree at a time. I subsequently ended up working for a sub-contractor to the oil industry. Fail.
I’d always been interested in technology and was the “go to guy” at university for lost files, broken machines and those minor niggles we all suffer with computers. So when I came across the advert for the Sky Technology grad scheme I thought, “how hard can it be? It’s got to be a lot more interesting than what I’m doing now.”
6 months later and I was responsible for ensuring that any one of Sky’s 11million customers were able to contact us by phone, and that the person who talked to them could access all the information they needed. A lot of responsibility very very quickly.
Jump another 6 months and I’m the end to end business analyst for a part of one of Sky’s top 6 projects. Another 6 months I’ll be somewhere else, and that’s the beauty of the gradaute programme. You have 2 years to work out what you want to do, and in the meantime gain vast amounts of experience from people who are the world experts in their field. I’ve realised that your degree doesn’t define what you will end up doing in later life, it might just mean that the learning curve is slightly steeper for you compared to the people next to you, but as long as you ask the questions people will answer you.
Find out how Rob came to apply to join us at Sky and what he loves most about his role.
Applying for this role was really a fortunate coincidence – I happened to be researching something on the internet and stumbled across an advert for Sky’s graduate opportunities. Reading the various job descriptions, it became obvious to me how Sky was an exciting place to work with lots of chances to contribute to real applications that millions of customers use on a daily basis.
As soon as I started, I went on a 4-week training course that covered all technical aspects of what’s required to be a successful software engineer at Sky. Some of the material was covered by my course at university but there were lots of new areas that were completely new to me – all of which I am now using every day.
Once I’d completed the training, I started working on a new project, based for the first time in the main office. Joining a small team of graduates, we were assigned our first project – to develop an iPad application for capturing the details of people who attend various careers and recruitment events around the country.
From day one, I have felt that I am totally empowered to make my own opportunities here at Sky. Within my team, we had the freedom to make our own decisions, both from a technical perspective and in regards to project management, and it’s great to be respected by all colleagues as an individual capable of making valuable contributions.
I’ve now been working for Sky for just over one year and am continuing to enjoy my work and the challenges that come my way. After finishing the 7-month programme, I joined a team in the business who are responsible for building and maintaining the sales platform. This has proven to be a great opportunity to gain exposure to some new technologies and I continue to learn a great deal, particularly now that I am working alongside others with a lot more experience.
My advice for anyone applying to Sky, for any role, would be to be confident in your opinions, open to new perspectives and enthusiastic to make your contribution.
We asked Rebecca, James, Chris, Christopher, Claire, Mayur and Tara, several of our current Finance graduates some of the most commonly asked questions we receive and found out more about their time at Sky and experiences on the graduate programme. Read on to find out more.
What were you doing before you worked at Sky?
Rebecca - Before starting on the grad scheme, I was studying for a music degree at the University of Nottingham . This may seem like a strange transition, but the transferrable skills you learn in any degree can be more important than a background in accountancy: like teamwork, communication, time management and independence. Apart from not getting any CIMA exemptions, I haven’t found my degree to be a hindrance at all.
James - I had just graduated from Cardiff University having studied Civil & Environmental Engineering and after a summer of SCUBA diving and part time work I applied to Sky after speaking to a current graduate. Two months after completing the initial online application I was then offered a place on the February intake.
Tara - I was at Strathclyde University studying Economics and International business. Part of this involved a semester abroad in North Carolina, USA. I work in Finance in Accounts Payable. I mainly deal with expenses and debt collection for American Express.
What's your role?
Chris - I perform lots of analysis on things like call volumes, resource and other ad-hoc things like overtime required for a big Box Office boxing match. I send out weekly reporting to various stakeholders and have been involved in preparing documents which are sent to the CFO and CEO to approve spend.
Christopher - I work in the Actuals Reporting Team under the Overheads & Corporate cost section. My role revolves around the accounting behind the Payroll costs, for example – posting of payroll journals to all Business units so they can compare forecasts to actuals. Additionally, my role revolves heavily around project work which means that each day is unique and challenging.
James – Now in my 2nd year, I work in Group CAPEX taking responsibility of managing the financials of our larger projects. The role requires you to take an overview of all areas in Sky giving you a diverse knowledge of the business.
What’s the best thing about being on the Finance programme?
Rebecca- My role in first year was always challenging, and instead of being given prescriptive tasks, there was an opportunity to think for yourself and experiment with the best way to present your findings. Even as a first year grad, your opinion is valued. I have now rotated into Investor Relations, where I will do things like monitor the share price and movements in the share register as well as summarising how the City view Sky and their competitors. There are a huge variety of possible roles, and the rotations process ensures you get a wide range of experience during the grad scheme.
Claire - The people, I have a great team which I work in, everyone was very welcoming and friendly. My first year also involved moving to Scotland for a year which meant I got to experience a different part of the business which I think will be beneficial in the future.
Tara - I really like the team that I am in. We all get on really well and it helps when there is a lot of work as we all help each other out.
Chris - Knowing the work we do in some way contributes to what millions of people watch on TV and chat about down the pub is a good feeling. Given lots of responsibility so I feel like the work I do makes a difference.
What has surprised you most about working at Sky?
Rebecca - The level of responsibility you’re given early on and that each role offers a really varied viewpoint on an individual area of the business, or even a wider view of Sky as a whole.
Chris -The scale of the organisation, you wouldn’t believe how many departments and people are required just so you can contact us with an issue, watch the football on a Saturday, or catch up on Game of thrones!
Christopher - How welcoming everyone at the firm are on a daily basis & the relaxed working environment so long you make sure your deadlines are met (this is not always the case!) I was also surprised to find there was a ping pong table in my office, great way to let off some steam! :)
Mayur - Busy & hectic at times but it is still an enjoyable place to work because of the people around us.
Rebecca stepped in to answer our final question – What’s it like completing CIMA?
Having had no exemptions, I had to complete certificate level in the first 6 months, which involved a quite tight turnaround between attending college and sitting the exam (typically less than 2 weeks). Adapting to the style of exams and BPP’s learning style was the hardest part for me, as well as motivating yourself to study after a day at work.
You then start attending weekend classes about 6 months in, which can be quite tough when you are working during the week too. Thankfully college is quite social and a good chance for all the grads to get to know each other. On the whole CIMA is a big time commitment, especially in the month before exams, when revision will take over, but in general it is possible to have a social life at the same time. Our intake would stay at work and study in meeting rooms for an hour or so, which definitely made studying more manageable. My advice would be little and often rather than cramming.
We had a quick chat with the new director of Sky Atlantic, Zai, read on to see what he loves about his new job at Sky.
Hi, I'm Zai Bennett and I'm the new Director of Sky Atlantic. And when I say new, I'm literally four weeks into this amazing job. Prior to joining Sky, I was Controller of BBC Three and before that Controller of ITV's digital channels so TV is firmly in my DNA.
I have been a Sky customer for many years and a huge admirer of Sky Atlantic since it launched. I'm an avid viewer of Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones and Mad Men so when the chance came to work with such world class shows, with all the impressive teams, plus the opportunity to shape Atlantic's truly ambitious originations strategy, I was desperate to join.
I've started at a really exciting time in Atlantic's story. When you look at our autumn/winter schedule you start to see the fruits of Sky's investment in content. Not only do we continue to have the best of the US but with Fortitude, our original crime thriller, you begin to understand the scale of our ambition. Like every stand out show on Atlantic, at the heart of Fortitude, is a brilliant story. It's gripping, intriguing and provoking. Beautifully shot and with standout performances from a talented cast that includes Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon, Christopher Ecclestone and Sofie Gråbøl, Fortitude sits shoulder to shoulder with our HBO content.
HBO has always been the backbone of our enviable schedule and this autumn we've got its latest drama, The Leftovers, starting. From the genius that is Damon Lindelhof (he of Lost fame), The Leftovers is the story of what happens when 2% of the world's population all disappears at exactly the same time, on the same day. It's a story of a community coming to terms with its grief and its struggle to try and make sense of the new world. As you'd expect from an Atlantic show, it has an amazing cast led by Justin Theroux, Liv Tyler and Christopher Ecclestone.
Then in October, Steven Soderberg's brutal medical drama, The Knick starts. Set in the 1900s in the Knickerbocker Hospital, New York, it is an unflinching and unsentimental portrayal of the surgeons who saw themselves as medical pioneers, striving for advancement whatever the cost to patients and often themselves. Steven directed all ten episodes and his cinematic touch is evident in every scene. The cast is led by Clive Owen, who plays Dr William Thackery, a medical genius beset with his personal demons. I promise after you've watched this not only will you be hooked but also incredibly happy to be born in today's sanitised medical world.
And then it is with a sad heart that we bid a fond farewell to Boardwalk Empire, the show that launched our channel three years ago.
Such brilliant shows and so many more in the pipeline; with shows this good I'm almost looking forward to winter.
Our HQ is based in Osterley, West London but just across London in Brick Lane is where Sky Network Services are based. These are the people that look after all of our Broadband and Telephony business. Based in the heart of East London are 200 people in a number of specialist teams:
The biggest group of people work in the Network Operations Centre (NOC). The NOC runs around the clock to make sure our network services are running well and our customers are happy.
Our broadband network is made up of 3,500km of Sky Fibre - the equivalent distance between London and New York! The NOC monitors, manages and protects this network’s components and resolves any issues. The NOC also manage the data centre; this can be the servers which deliver content for Sky Go or NOW TV or the smooth running of our major online services.
This team actually builds and maintains the Broadband and Telephony network in London and South East England. A big part of this is looking after the physical hardware in the Brick Lane data centre, where enormous computers and servers house the millions of pieces of data. The team also has a state of the art ‘Test Lab’! Here they build and test the next generation of Broadband and Telephony products and services.
Mechanical & Electrical Operations
This team works day and night to keep the lights on in Brick Lane. This team is essential to the seamless running of our power hungry Brick Lane data centre. They work very closely with Implementation to provide power and to maintain a cool temperature, as the machines can get quite hot!
Switch & Voice Development
This team designs, tests and integrates all of our telephony services for customers and corporate use, which includes our internal phone systems and audio conferencing.